There are some stunning walks around – Surrey and Sussex both have beautiful woods, particularly worth a visit during the spring when many will be carpeted with the yellow promise of primroses, or subtle blue bobbling heads of thousands of bluebells.
Click on the links below to be taken to the blog page & description / directions for each walk.
The ‘Wise Old Owl’ 5m circular
A lovely very local easy walk; starting and ending at The Owl pub, just a minute’s drive North on the A24. Boots needed, and caution in parts following heavy rain, but beautiful at any time of the year.
Chesworth Farm walks
Just a 10 minute walk from Horsham’s buzzing centre, Chesworth farm is free to enter, and open all day. Chesworth is well loved by local residents and wildlife enthusiasts, and more closely resembles a vast, well managed common area than a town farm. 90 acres of footpaths & bridleways criss crossing meadows and ancient hedgerows bordering the River Arun – a real treat, being so accessible. A surprising treat at any time of the year, but boots advised in winter.
Starting around 15 minutes drive away, walking through woodlands and alongside meadows. Visit the small churchyard outside St Nicholas’ church in Itchingfield, and see its quirky, tiny 15 Century Priests House. Back past some interesting farms near Slinfold to the Queen’s Head hostelry. A quiet, undemanding walk with lots of woodland. Long boots needed in / after wet weather!
Capel to Newdigate figure-of-8: 5 + 5 miles
Capel and Newdigate are well kept local villages and this walk is a great local romp for when it’s not too wet (can get very slippery through woodland after floods). Park at Capel, just 10 minutes north on the A24 and enjoy refreshments at the pub there, or in Newdigate. Add a tangent onto the walk and stop off with the friendly micro beer producers, at Dorking Brewery. See directions here.
Loxwood Canal & Drungewick Aqueduct 5m / 8km circular
Around a 20 minute’s drive away, this route starts at the newly restored Loxwood Link section of the Wey & Arun canal. It circles out to the north of the village, taking you through ancient woodland and out over open land with fabulous views, past the canalside Onslow Arms to Loxwood Lock.
This is a very pretty walk, largely thanks to the work of the dedicated members of the Wey and Arun Canal Trust. For a link to the route, click here.
Nuthurst Parish: 2 short walks, each just under 5m / 8km
These 2 lovely short walks can be muddy in winter, but are well worth donning the wellies for. Just a 15 minute drive away, with easy parking at the start, in nearby Mannings Heath. The routes are provided by a local resident, so contain interesting information about the area. I combine both to make up a slightly longer, easy, largely flat ramble across fields and through woodland. Click here.
The pretty village of Cranleigh is about 15 minutes drive away. Sitting on the southernmost tip of Surrey, it claims to be Surrey’s largest village. Cranleigh is the home of many interesting independent shops and eateries – a myriad of cafes which offer both indoor and outdoor seating; from a traditional tea room to trendy, designer styled coffee houses and a lovely pub. Some good food outlets too – a traditional butcher and fishmonger, bakers and an interesting ‘eco shop’ set up in response to the call for more sustainable living. See details of ‘For Earth’s Sake’, the not for profit community store which ‘puts the planet first’ by clicking here.
If you enjoy traditional markets, it’s worth planning this walk for a Thursday; park behind the recreation centre for the most economical spot, and you’re well placed to visit the buzzing market, offering local meats, fish, fruit & vegetables and much more – and the route to this walk is just beside the car park. Click here for more details of the Cranleigh Thursday outdoor market.
The Cranleigh 6 mile circular is an easy walk through gradually undulating countryside with great coffee to be had in the village at the end!
Rowhook to Rudgwick 6m / 9.5km circular
Whichever village you start at, this walk begins and ends at a pub. I’d recommend adjusting the route to start at point 7, Rowhook, as this is the nearer village. It is less than a 10 minute’s drive away; also the home of The Chequers – a gastro pub which is justifiably well loved amongst locals. The route passes by several picturesque fishing lakes and magical ancient woodland. Long boots are essential after heavy rain as there can be quite a bit of mud; some of it sinking… Also lots of styles – with very low dog access, so one to avoid if you have a tall four legged friend!
The gentle slopes of the land on this walk, broad fields, lazy sheep and wide skies can result in very special, stunning horizons.
Holmbush to Leith Hill: 6.5 miles
An enjoyable ramble up and down Leith hill – starting conveniently at Holmbush station, just a 10 minute drive up the A24. Easy on street parking outside the station. Leith Tower has a tiny cafe, with outdoor seating (!), offering excellent views to London and, in the opposite direction, the south coast.
Cowfold to Crabtree 6.5m / 11km circular
A pretty, gentle walk for all seasons, with no major hills – enjoy bluebells in Spring, and blackberries and sloes in late summer. The crabtree gastropub underwent a refurbishment just before 2020’s Covid ‘Lockdown’, and is a well run, welcoming pub. Click here for a link to its website. The Crabtree is run by chef owner, Simon Hope who is an experienced restaurateur and food writer, so is well worth visiting. You will also pass by the South Lodge Hotel, which also has a renowned restaurant, though less personal.
Horsham: Black Jug pub to Warnham Deer Park 7m circular
Denbies to Polesden Lacy 8m circular
Denbies is just a 20 minute drive, up the A24. It has a huge car park, a cafe offering fresh food and decent coffee, and a branch of Village Greens organic foods. In it’s own shop, Denbies offer an attractive, but somewhat random selection of ‘gift’ type merchandise – and, of course, particularly good wine!
This is a lovely walk; up and along the North Downs, down the other side, and back. Exhilarating when taken at pace, whatever the time of year. Leafy paths through beautiful woodland, opening out to far reaching views of manicured vines, grazing cattle and sheep, and wide countryside beyond. In autumn, whether seen through the lens of foggy mist, or the bright sparkling light that sunshine creates when breaking through slightly damp air, the woods are hugely atmospheric. In places, they look almost prehistoric!
Box Hill Hike 8m / 13K circular
Although not a huge distance, the fact that this route traverses Box Hill’s steep slopes numerous times means that the climbs make up for the distance to turn this ‘hike’ into a decent challenge.
In winter, the chalky slopes ensure that the ground is less muddy than many nearby, lower level walks. Flint, too, is common on the slopes. This is a feature of many of the surrounding houses, elegantly showcasing beautiful flint studded walls. Walking boots are a must, and the hike itself is best avoided in very icy conditions when the slopes, some of which are very steep, are likely to be dangerously slippery.
On fine summer days, the views across the escarpment and over the North Downs can be even more breathtaking than the climbs!
Easy on street parking can be found in Mickleham, point 3 on the National Trust route. If you use this as the starting point, you will also be rewarded with the opportunity of a drink in the Running Horses pub as an end goal. Alternatively, the start point can be Dorking Station (or the smaller West Humble Station), both serviced by direct trains from our local stations, Horsham or Warnham.
Find the route for this heady hike here!
Chanctonbury Ring 8m / 13K circular
The South Downs is Britain’s newest National Park, connecting Winchester to the Beachy Head coast. It’s varied environment is home to a rich range of biodiversity. Visiting in Winter, expect to return with chalky white splashes highlighting the usual muddy brown trousers, Picasso – style! The chalk heathland, grasslands, flood meadows, ancient woodlands and flood meadows will burst with wild flowers in summer, and offer fantastic opportunities for off road cyclists, hikers, and photographers and nature lovers.
Warnham, Slinfold & Rowhook 8.5m / 13.5km circular
Slinfold is a small, pretty village with an old style pub, the Red Lion; a good stop for refreshment before returning through beautiful countryside.
Jack & Jill and Chattri Memorial South Downs 8.5m / 13.6km circular
The heights of the South Downs, and their chalky structure, make winter hikes less muddy. On a fine day, there can be fewer more invigorating places to walk. The views are incredible, whether enjoyed through opaque curtains of mist, gradually lifting to unveil the landscape, or through a clearer lens, when the wintry sunshine manages to burn through the morning’s foggy damp, revealing clear, astonishingly bright, long vistas.
The unexpected highlight of this panoramic walk is on the home leg, where you will come across the beautiful Chattri Memorial. In honour of the Sikh and Hindu soldiers, it stands quietly, but magnificently on the Down’s South Ridge. The smooth, stark white structure juxtaposed against the green and blue hues of the natural landscape, 500ft (150m) above Brighton.
See details of the Chattri Memorial walk here
Southwater & Magdelane wood 9m circular
The small hamlet of Copsale (3.5 miles from Horsham) is an ideal starting point for this walk – park for free, just opposite the former pub, and cross over to join the Downs Link.
In the spring, you will enjoy bluebells and the heady aroma of wild garlic – late Autumn, the offering will be sloes – with some bushes that bear the biggest sloes I’ve ever seen; ideal for steeping into the perfect fortification for when winter nights are at their coldest, and Sloe Gin is the perfect bedtime tonic!
Dunsfold & Cranleigh circular, via Hascombe Hill & the modern day druid’s Dragonstone Stone Circle. 9.75m / 15.7Km
A hugely enjoyable, easy ramble through two very pretty local villages. The route meanders along the Wey and Arun canal and across some beautiful countryside – both wooded and open, with wide skies and broad green horizons. There are several surprises along the way – including Hascombe Hill’s bizarre and particularly intriguing, but little known,stone circle: SO worth a visit!
See the route here
https://www.warnhamnaturereservefriends.org.uk/92 Acre: Warnham Nature Reserve
The Reserve is a treasured asset of Horsham with many different habitats supporting a wide range of fauna and flora. The 17 acre Warnham Millpond with its reedbeds, islands and marginal vegetation dominates this 92 acre site. It has ample free parking, trails, and hides. The visitor centre has an exhibition room and disabled access toilets with baby changing facilities The Herons Rest café serves drinks and snacks. Over 400 species of plant life and 100 bird species have been recorded, as well as many butterflies and over 21 species of dragonfly in summer.
North Downs Way: Various walks
The North Downs Way runs 153 miles from Farnham on the edge of the Surrey Hills to Dover. Following ancient trackways along the chalk ridges and wooded downland of Surrey and Kent, it passes through Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, grazing the southern edge of greater London and ending at the celebrated White Cliffs. Here, there is an optional loop via Canterbury. The North Downs Way was opened as a National Trail in 1978. For much of its length the Way parallels the old Pilgrim’s Way route between Winchester and Canterbury. As so much of the traditional Pilgrim’s Way route is now part of the modern road network, walkers wishing to follow it are advised to use the North Downs Way as an alternative.
Click on heading above for a link to the National Trust for a variety of routes helpfully colour coded by the National Trust. Leith Hill House, once residence of Charles Darwin, remains an inspirational building, thanks to ongoing restoration work by the National Trust. The Tower, further up the hill, is popular with cross country cyclists and walkers alike. Wonderful views of London and countryside stretch for miles. If you climb all 74 steps to the tower’s summit, you may be able to see Wembley Arena and the London Eye on a clear day.
As long as you like: Devils Dyke & Ditchling Beacon for more fab views
The South Downs offers some of the best views around, taking in coast and country. Lewes is a lovely town and a good base for exploring at the end of a walk – but there are many alternatives to choose from, and you can’t really go wrong.
Walks of any length with wonderful views: Box Hill, approx 10-15 minutes drive for a walk that will leave you with sore leg muscles in the evening, and a camera full of shots of the best views around!
Various: Box Hill
A stunning area off woodland and chalk hills, managed by the National Trust which offers plenty of scope for walks of different lengths and challenges – and also free guided walks. Box Hill has a cafe at the top and you will pass by Denbies vineyard on the way / way back: also a great place for walks, including their vineyard tour, with a good drink at the end!
Knepp Knepp Estate walks
This flagship wildland project is a renowned 3,500 acre estate, with a castle designed by John Nash, at the forefront of the country’s rewilding movement. Knepp is certainly worth a visit – and has an easily accessed car park, and several well laid out walking routes. But don’t rush – you may have to wait a while if the free spirited old English longhorns, Exmoor ponies, Tamworth pigs, or red and fallow deer are having a think in the middle of the road when you’re wanting to leave!